Suspected Gunman Charged With Attempted Murder Of Slovak PM

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Authorities have charged a suspected gunman with the attempted murder of Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The attack, which took place on Wednesday, came just weeks after the election victory of Peter Pellegrini, a Fico ally.

LEADERSHIP earlied reported that Prime Minister Fico’s condition had stabilised but remains “very serious,” according to Deputy Prime Minister Robert Kalinak. Surgeons worked for hours to save the 59-year-old leader, who was shot while speaking to the public after a meeting. Footage shows security agents rushing a wounded Fico into a car, while police apprehended a suspect nearby.

Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok described the shooter as a “lone wolf” whose actions were driven by dissatisfaction with the recent presidential election outcome. Estok noted that the gunman’s motivations were accelerated by the election results.

In response to the violence, President-elect Pellegrini urged political parties to halt their campaigns for the upcoming EU parliament election in June. “Slovakia should avoid further confrontation,” Pellegrini stated in a joint message with outgoing President Zuzana Caputova. Caputova emphasized the need to end “the vicious circle of hatred” in the nation.

The opposition, led by Progressive Slovakia, announced they had already suspended their campaign activities. Slovakia’s political landscape has long been divided between pro-European and nationalist-leaning factions, with recent elections marked by disinformation and social media attacks.

The alleged shooter, a 71-year-old writer, was apprehended at the scene. His son expressed shock, saying he had “absolutely no idea what father was thinking.” Political analyst Miroslav Radek warned that the attack could lead to “further radicalisation of individuals and politicians in Slovakia.”

Public reaction to the shooting has been a mix of shock and outrage. Residents of Banska Bystrica, where the attack took place, voiced their concerns. “I’m certainly afraid that such attacks will be repeated,” said 18-year-old student Nina Stevulova. Another resident, Karol Reichl, criticized the use of violence, suggesting non-violent ways to express dissent.

Fico, a political veteran who has served as prime minister multiple times, has been a polarizing figure in Slovak politics. His recent tenure has seen strained relations with Ukraine and controversial changes to media laws. He was forced to resign in 2018 after the murder of an investigative journalist exposed high-level corruption but made a political comeback in 2022.

The attack has cast a shadow over the upcoming European parliament elections, where far-right parties are expected to gain ground. Engineer Jaroslav Pirozak from Levice, the gunman’s hometown, expressed a nuanced view: “I’m sad for Fico, but at the same time, he’s the one spreading hate and dividing the society.”

Following the attack, MP Lubos Blaha from Fico’s party blamed the incident on “liberal media and progressive politicians,” claiming their “hatred” put Fico’s life at risk.

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